Grant Holt’s late bonus for Norwich City faithful in Celtic

Grant Holt fires home the only goal of the game against Celtic. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Grant Holt fires home the only goal of the game against Celtic. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
10:49 AM

Skipper Grant Holt gave Norwich City’s travelling army of fans another moment to remember when he struck with little more than a minute left to sink Scottish champions Celtic on their own ground.

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The new Norwich City management team - manager Chris Hughton (right), assistant manager Colin Calderwood (centre) and first team coach Paul Trollope (left). Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus ImagesThe new Norwich City management team - manager Chris Hughton (right), assistant manager Colin Calderwood (centre) and first team coach Paul Trollope (left). Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Holt, whose uncertain future occupied the minds of those same supporters for much of the close season before he agreed a new three-year deal, beat former City team-mate Fraser Forster from close range after the big goalkeeper had parried a shot from midfielder Jonny Howson.

It completed a notable, if friendly, double for the Canaries after their end-of-season 2-0 victory over the Hoops in Adam Drury’s testimonial back in May.

Manager Chris Hughton again fielded different line-ups in each half, giving a total of 21 players part of the action but losing former Rangers defender Steven Whittaker to an ankle injury in the first half on his return to Glasgow.

Striker Steve Morison returned to action after missing the 3-2 defeat by Hertha Berlin because of an ankle injury, partnering James Vaughan – fresh from his two goals in the friendly in Austria – in attack in the opening half.

The Norwich City players applaud the travelling support at the end of the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus ImagesThe Norwich City players applaud the travelling support at the end of the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Celtic showed nine changes from the team beaten 4-0 by Ajax at the weekend, but assistant manager Johan Mjallby was in charge on the night because boss Neil Lennon was in Iceland watching his side’s Champions League opponents.

Nine weeks after the two sides met at Carrow Road, there was a decent pre-season crowd inside the huge arena, including hundreds of City supporters who made their way north of the border for the occasion and were in good voice, especially at the final whistle.

Though Celtic struck the woodwork twice in the opening half, Hughton’s chosen eleven for the first 45 minutes gave a good account of themselves.

There was an early half-chance for Vaughan after Morison hooked the ball into his path in the fifth minute, but Mikael Lustig did just enough to divert the ball out for a corner, which was headed clear by Georgios Samaras. Vaughan flashed a header wide from a cross by Elliott Bennett after 11 minutes as City worked a neat move by the right-hand corner flag.

Whittaker was booed at every touch by the Celtic crowd, but his determination in harrying the ball away from Emilio Izaguirre almost paved the way for an opening goal on 19 minutes.

He set up Morison for a low cross that just eluded Vaughan but would have reached Anthony Pilkington for a tap-in but for the intervention of Dylan McGeouch.

It was a costly piece of work by Whitaker, however, who needed treatment and had to hobble off down the tunnel to be replaced by fellow Scotland international Russell Martin.

Celtic finally sprang to life midway through the half and struck the woodwork twice in the space of a minute.

First Kris Commons had a powerful 20-yard drive deflected on to the crossbar, then from the resulting corner, Lustig’s header bounced off the top of the bar.

As the action livened up at both ends, Pilkngton forced ’keeper Lucasz Zaluska to save low by his right-hand post.

And John Ruddy was forced into the action at the other end when Filip Twardzik’s took a deflection off Bradley Johnson and forced him to dive to his right to push the ball round the post.

Celtic were also forced into a change 10 minutes before the break when Kelvin Wilson suffered a knock and made way for Victor Wanyama.

Samaras missed the best chance of the half when McGeouch dispossessed Andrew Crofts and put him through but Elliott Ward’s challenge was just enough to close down the angle and he clipped his shot wide.

Goalkeeper Zaluska needed treatment before the break after taking a bang on the head when Vaughan challenged him for Marc Tierney’s cross.

After a few minutes’ attention, the bandaged Zaluska had to make way for ex-Canary Fraser Forster in goal, the third injured player to depart in the opening half.

City began the second period with Ruddy and Russell Martin joined by nine different outfield players.

Commons, not afraid to try his luck from a distance, flashed another shot wide seven minutes after the break.

Chris Martin almost provided the breakthrough after 57 minutes with a deft backflick from Russell Martin’s low cross, but Forster stuck out his right leg to deny him.

Samaras had another chance to break the deadlock when he raced on to Commons’ pass but floated his shot over the top as Ruddy advanced. Celtic introduced their remaining four substitutes during the course of the second half and by the time the game entered the final 20 minutes, all 38 players on the teamsheet had been on the field at some stage. Substitute Mohamed Bangura, one of the last pair to appear, was only just off target as the hosts began to look for a winner.

Forster suffered what could have been an embarrassment against his old club five minute from time when he fumbled a long-range effort from Simeon Jackson but made just enough contact to keep the ball out.

The decisive goal came just over one minute from time, however. Hoolahan’s cross from the right was met with a first-time shot by Jonny Howson that brought a smart reaction save out of Forster, but Holt was there to tuck away the rebound and give the travelling fans another special moment to savour.

• Celtic: Zaluska (Forster, 45); Lustig, Rogne, Wilson (Wanyama, 35), Izaguerre; McGeouch (Forrest, 61), McCourt, Twardzik, Samaras (Matthews, 69); Commons (Bangura, 69), Murphy (Hooper, 61).

• Norwich City: First half: Ruddy; Whittaker (Russell Martin, 24), Ayala, Ward, Tierney; Elliott Bennett, Crofts, Johnson, Pilkington; Vaughan, Morison.

Second half: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Barnett, Ryan Bennett, Lappin; Howson; Hoolahan, Surman; Jackson, Holt, Chris Martin.

• Referee: Calum Murray

• Goal: City: Holt (89)

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